Taking a stab at a Yankees 25-man roster — based strictly on the players currently under contract — led me to think about who’s next in line for big league jobs. So, why not give the Triple-A roster a shot? Just like with the big league roster I posted earlier today, this isn’t really a prediction, just a look at who could slide into these roles based on who’s currently under contract. It’s more about getting a sense of the Yankees depth rather than trying to guess who will be in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre next season.
This is assuming Heathcott shows enough in spring training to prove he’s ready to move up to Triple-A after 399 Double-A at-bats last year. If that’s not the case — if the Yankees want him to at least start the year back in Trenton — there are a couple of guys listed below who can play center field. This lineup also assumes that Nunez will be in New York, which seems unlikely. He might be there if the season started tomorrow, but ultimately I expect him to be crowded out. Anna and Romine could go the other way and ultimately earn big league jobs this spring, but again, I’d bet against it right now. It’s also worth noting that the details of the Yankees Triple-A lineup could be subject to change on a day-to-day basis. There are a lot of guys here who will need to play multiple positions in preparation for a potential big league role. Same goes for the guys on the bench. Also, experienced utility infielder Navarro could be traded to a team in Korea. The Yankees will lose some experienced versatility in the deal, but really, the smart money seems to be on Nunez eventually being the Triple-A shortstop anyway.
Adonis Garcia OF
Antoan Richardson OF
Addison Maruszak UT
Jose Pirela UT
Every team goes into spring training with more Triple-A possibilities than they really need. Ultimately, the Yankees will probably add even more than this, allowing for the fact that some planned minor leaguers will be needed in the big leagues, and for the fact that a handful of spring injuries are inevitable. That’s my way of saying that a guy like Garcia could and probably should play fairly regularly, even with this mix of players.
Just guessing, but I’d say there’s a good chance the Yankees will have Manny Banuelos open the year down in Florida to avoid the cold weather in his first outings back from Tommy John surgery. That said, the point of this exercise is to get a sense of the Yankees Triple-A depth, and it makes little sense to do that and leave out Banuelos. Also, I’d say there’s a strong chance Shane Greene is going to open the year in Triple-A, having impressed the Yankees with his improved command last season. He made 13 Double-A starts last year and might not have to go back. Also, there’s still the chance that Chase Whitley will be moved out of the bullpen and into the Triple-A rotation; and there’s a chance Michael Pineda will have to return to the minors; and a chance that Ramirez will become a big league bullpen option. Given the uncertainty of the Yankees major league pitching staff, trying to predict a Triple-A pitching staff is kind of absurd, but at least it gives some idea of who’s out there.
Cesar Cabral is a little bit like Nunez. Based on the Yankees current 40-man roster, he might have a spot in the big leagues. But, eventually, I think he’ll be crowded out and dumped back to Triple-A. So, really, I think he’s more likely to fit here than in New York out of spring training. Preston Claiborne and Dellin Betances could be here as well. Herndon and Miller have returned to the Yankees on minor league deals, and they seem like natural fits on the Triple-A roster assuming they don’t make a surprising charge into the big league mix. There’s really no good way to predict a Triple-A bullpen this time of year, but again, this is primarily a exercise to look at the immediate depth in the Yankees organization. Tommy Kahnle could be in his mix as well if he’s returned from Rule 5 duty with the Rockies. There are plenty of others who could easily slide into this mix, including a handful of potential Triple-A starters.
Associated Press photos